Featured Children's Book Illustrator: Eda Kaban

Published 2 years ago

One of our featured creatives this month is Eda Kaban, the illustrator of Old MacDonald Had a Truck, which was nominated for the Missouri Building Block 2017 Picture Book Award. Eda is currently based out of Oakland, California, but was born and raised in Turkey. She moved to the United States to study illustration. Her work has been featured in a variety of publications, and she has worked with many clients including Penguin, Random House, HarperCollins, Chronicle Books, Simon & Schuster, Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal.

Eda loves reading and drawing, and she searches for stories through love, laughter, and observing the people around her. When she is not drawing, she can be found climbing or biking with her husband. (The interview has been edited for clarity.)

Children's Book Illustrator Eda Kaban

Bookroo: What did you enjoy most about illustrating Old MacDonald Had a Truck?

Eda: I loved drawing all the construction vehicles! We went on a road trip to Napa County to gather references for Old MacDonald's old truck and I visited lots of construction sites. To this day, I scream every truck name when I see them on the road. My favorite is a cement mixer.

Children's Book Old MacDonald Had a Truck

Bookroo: What is it like to work with authors on children’s books? Is it easy to mesh your creative process with someone else’s?

Eda: It’s wonderful to collaborate with another creative! You feed each other with ideas and the book becomes even stronger.

Bookroo: You have a distinct style for your illustrated characters. What inspired this style, and how has it evolved as you’ve grown as an illustrator?

Eda: It’s inspired by vintage cartoons, belgian comics and mid-century design. I religiously watched cartoons and read Belgian comics growing up and aspired to be an artist since very little. With all this influence, my style became a mash-up of mid-century and modern illustration.

Children's Book Illustrator Eda Kaban

Bookroo: What does an average day look like for you?

Eda: An average day usually consists of long hours of drawing and painting. I’m pretty disciplined and organized, to a point that it’s almost a flaw. I have a schedule I created for myself, built around my most productive hours. I love my routine and I stick with it almost every day. This might sound monotonous to some, especially when you think how creating art is impulsive in itself, but that’s how I’m the most productive and how I can finish art work everyday.

I’m an early bird so I usually start when all is still quiet around and even dark. I love the sun rising and day starting out as I’m drawing and sipping coffee. I try to take advantage of the flexible hours and the early start. I usually have a long lunch break when I go swimming or dancing. This usually fuels me up for the second half of the day and clears my mind. Unless there is a pressing deadline, I love spending the evenings with my husband and climbing at my gym with my friends. I reset it all in the evening and enjoy all my time so I can do it all again fresh next day.

Children's Book Illustrator Eda Kaban

Bookroo: Did you always know that you wanted to be an illustrator? What made you want to focus your art towards an audience of children?

Eda: Part of me always knew, since I could hold a crayon. I also wanted to be a private detective and solve crime when I was a kid so I think my imagination always ran a little wild. My mom would brag about me to her friends about how creative I was and let me do her gift packages in my very own mixed media style. I bet it was embarrassing to her a lot of the time. My teachers also encouraged me to make more art, they sent me to workshops and had me enter competitions. I even won some, but I still didn’t understand art could be an actual profession. It seemed too good to be true, even better than becoming a private detective! First time it occurred to me in an adult way was when I first saw an animated feature on the big screen. I must have been 8 or 9. I remember loving going to museums with my dad and having lots and lots of crayons and pastels and I would read every book I could get my hands on. It formed more as I grew up. As my interests matured I learned more about art and I realized I was drawn to illustration. The rest is just trying to make it happen.

As my style, voice and narrative skills developed in art school, I discovered I was interested in creating children’s books. Ever since, I love my little audience!

Bookroo: What was the hardest part of becoming a published illustrator?

Eda: Art school was incredibly challenging. It’s a restless 4-year marathon. You draw and paint everyday 7 days of the week until your skills build up enough. And it’s never enough! It can be very tiring but so rewarding at the same time.

The next perhaps even bigger challenge is breaking into the industry. There are so many ‘no’s before you get one ‘yes.’ It’s emotionally exhausting to go through. Then you ‘finally!’ get your first book deal and next thing you know you’re making a living with your dream job. It all makes it even more rewarding in the end.

Bookroo: What was your favorite book as a child?

Eda: Little Prince.

Bookroo: Do you have any other creative outlets outside of drawing?

Eda: I do have outlets but not creative per se. I love climbing, hiking, camping and being in the nature and that’s my biggest outlet. And dancing!

Children's Book Illustrator Eda Kaban Children's Book Illustrator Eda Kaban Children's Book Illustrator Eda Kaban

Bookroo: What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?

Eda: Work hard, be patient, and don’t forget to spend time NOT drawing. Go out, live a little and get inspired. In the end it won’t be all about the technical aspects you learn in school but about you and your voice and ideas. Art is your passion. Don’t forget why you love it so much and have fun with it!

Bookroo: We’re a community of children’s book lovers! Do you have any upcoming books we should keep an eye out for?

Eda: Yes! I recently had Pink is for Boys come out. Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten from Two Lions and What Makes a Hero from Marvel will come out in 2019.

We really appreciate the opportunity to learn more about Eda and her work as an illustrator. You can learn more about her and see more of her work on her website.

(All images courtesy of Eda Kaban)

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